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Showing posts with label short story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short story. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Final Sneak Peek...

Just 3 more days until you can get your own copy of the latest installment of our 
Para-Earth Series... 


The stories contained within these pages will make you laugh, gasp, giggle and possibly shed a tear or two.  But most of all they will leave you anxiously waiting for more stories which we promise are on the way.

Remember you can pre-order your Kindle copy for just $3.99 at the following link:



In the meantime here's one final peek into the first of what we hope will be many paranormal/science fiction anthologies...


"Wolfgang In Sheep's Clothing"

June 2014

By Helen Krummenacker


For someone who travels so much, I always seem to have trouble getting ready for departure. It’s helpful these days, having my granddaughter on hand to look after the farm, my pets, and the complex organizing of my correspondence. She came to Germany to get a medical degree and is happy to stay with me and help out. There is little enough work-- while we do still produce some crops to send to the local markets, apple and walnut trees require little attention most of the year, and there are people we can hire for that. Mostly, she spends several hours in town working on studies and research, and enjoys the property as a chance to get away.
Still, there are always many details for me to take care of. For instance, my pets take extra attention. They are not the kind of thing you can easily take to the vet. No one has seen a living trilobite, except for in my aquarium, and many of the others have no near relatives that have existed on this Earth. Depending on one’s definition of near. Fluffy, for instance, has many birdlike traits. His usual prey is squirrel, but herons and hawks like them, too, and he largely eats nuts, especially acorns, to get his protein. He also keeps snails and caterpillars from messing up the family garden and rats out of the buildings. Birdlike was a good description for him. One difference in events between two parallel Earths could lead to such wonderful paths in evolution.
The indoor animals were all doing well and the controls for their temperature, humidity, and other such comforts were working fine. Fluffy had noticed me packing and was shadowing me now, wanting plenty of attention before I went away. We played a bit of fetch as I worked and he ran in circles around me out to the barn.
“Wolfgang!” I called out. The pygmy woodland camel was not inside, even though it looked to be a wet day. I assumed he’d decided to forage in the orchard, so I went out that way. Ruefully, I discovered a fence post had been knocked over and had on it some of the brown wool Wolfgang grew.
I quickly ordered Fluffy back. I didn’t need him to get out, too, and start harassing the neighbor’s cat. As bright as a peacock, as large as a turkey, and not exactly a bird, he would be difficult to explain to anyone who got a good look at him.
For that matter, Wolfgang was not easy to explain, but might pass for a rare breed. The question was, where would he be? Following his tracks would help, but only in the softest areas. His feet were wide and kept him from sinking easily. While he was naturally a creature of the forest, he had been raised by me from when he was only about two months old, and I did not believe he would wander far on purpose. However, herd animals seek their kind and, failing that, will seek a good facsimile. Fluffy, for instance, usually spent most of his time among the crows, who were happy to hang around the liminal area between forest and farm to keep their distant, brilliant cousin company.
As for Wolfgang, his closest relatives would be camels or llamas, and neither one was likely to be abundant in the area. On the other hand, llamas did sometimes show up for one reason only. They were terrifically fond of sheep, and guarded them against predators better than a dog.
He wouldn’t, would he? Of course he would. One thing you could trust any pet to do, no matter what their species, was to gravitate to exactly the activity that would be sure to cause chaos. At least it was autumn, and no chance of a shearing taking place. With a sigh, I headed out to Snyder’s, the nearest farm with sheep.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

E-mail from Deputy Michael Rhodes Dated June 17th, 2016 - "The Cannibal Killer" Part-1

****WARNING THIS STORY MAY BE TOO INTENSE FOR SOME READERS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF RAPE, VIOLENCE, OR LOST SOMEONE TO A VIOLENT ACT.  PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU THINK THIS STORY MAY CAUSE YOU UNDO MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL ANGUISH.**** 




Dear Uncle Nate,

I know it's just been a month or two since you were last out this way, but bad things have been happening.  REALLY bad things.  Right now we've got the townspeople, the Mayor, hell even the Governor clamoring for an arrest and so far we've been coming up empty.  

We almost got him last night but his 'victim' had to come first.  It was my partner, Terri McCloud.  You'll remember her of course.  She had dinner with us that one night.  But even if she wasn't my partner, I'd have still put her first.  She's one of us and you watch out for your own, especially when they wear the same uniform as you.  You told me that a long time ago. I was too young to fully understand what you'd meant back then, but when I enlisted in the army, your words came flooding back and I finally got it.  

Of course, I'm not in the army now, but I still wear a uniform and so do my fellow deputies, like Terri.  And right now we're up against something, or someone, who seems almost inhuman.  How else can you describe a rapist who also eats parts of his victims?  You don't expect someone like that to show up in small town like this.  Not to say we don't have our share of death, violence, drugs, etc.  We may not be the big city, but we have a lot of the same problems.  But a maniac like this?  No!  Nobody is ready for a serial killer to show up.  And this one is smart, which makes him even more dangerous. 


According to a profiling expert who came in to advise us, killers like this one don't announce their arrival, not right away.  Oh no. They're subtle at first.  An attempted mugging or a sexual assault, then they possibly lay low for a while to see what happens.  Did they leave any evidence behind?  How good a job of keeping their face hidden from the victim?  Then he'd wait and see what far we'd take to find him... sort of scoping out how overstretched we were, that kind of thing.  

Based on that idea, I'm starting to suspect he's had military training and have mentioned this several times to our boss.  He wasn't so sure about that theory at first, but after the fourth attack he started coming round to my way of thinking and so have the others.  Problem is, we still don't have much to go on. 

To make matters worse, he knew who his target was last night.  He KNEW Terri was a deputy gone undercover.  How do I know?  She told us while they were rushing her to the Emergency Room!  She'd suffered massive blood loss from multiple stab wounds.  She never got a look at his face, but heard him muttering about "her being out of uniform after dark..." during the attack, but that's all we got.  She's been unconscious since they brought her out and we've got men on the door to her room.  They're checking EVERYONE who comes in to make sure they're hospital staff.  Hell, they even stopped and searched a priest who claimed to be from her brother... which he was.

Right now she's the only victim to survive that we're certain of who's survived, and I'm worried we might not be enough to keep her, or anyone else, safe.  That's why I'm e-mailing you Uncle Nate.  You're the only one I know who can probably help take this guy down.  Everybody here has been doing their best to try and catch this him, but he keeps getting past us and as I said he never leaves any evidence behind.

I know I'm breaking all the rules asking you to come in and help, and I haven't told my superiors or even my partner about you.  But I don't want to see anyone else wind up like Terri or the others.  Please let me know what you decide as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Michael




  


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Another Glimpse Into Our Upcoming Anthology...

*Update from Allan: Last week, while awaiting the arrival of a replacement laptop for me, our desktop computer gave up the ghost. This left us with just Helen's laptop which she needs for college accounting courses. So our release date for "The Vampyre Blogs - One Day At A Time" has been pushed back until "Twelfth Night" or January 5th, 2018. We chose this because with the holidays coming we will have a harder time getting things done like beta-reader testing, edits, artwork finished, cover art, and formatting the book. Furthermore, December is notoriously a bad time for independent authors to get much visibility due to the big publishing companies dominating advertising for the Christmas rush.
In the meantime, here is another sneak peek into the anthology. This installment is one that I feel really shows off Helen's skills in setting, mood, and storytelling. We hope you enjoy what you see and we'll keep you posted on when pre-orders will be available. Happy reading everyone...


THE EYES UNDER THE SOFA

BY

HELEN KRUMMENACKER

Tim was bored. It was another long summer day in a summer that was made ever longer by their move to a house in the country. He didn’t know any kids in the area, and even if he did, it wouldn’t make any difference because it was too far to walk anywhere if he didn’t tell his folks where he was going first. That was unfair. It was unfair, too, that they had moved in the first place. He couldn’t believe his folks actually thought he’d like it out here, where there was nothing for miles but rocks and trees, and stupid hick people, and dirt and snakes.
Nothing happened out here. At least, nothing exciting. Back home (home was still the city, this was just the new house) there were games in the street, and rollerblading on the sidewalks. If you bladed fast and were quiet, you could go right past the old folks carrying home their groceries, and scream at the last minute so they’d get scared and drop them. And sometimes one of the older kids would get in a fight and get cool bandages. And you could hear fire engines and police sirens and ambulances.
Out here all you ever heard was the wind in the trees. It didn’t even sound the same as wind did back home, gusty and thudding. It was like being at the ocean, all the noise dying into a murmur. He could hear himself breathe. He could probably hear Killer breathe.
Killer was Tim’s cat. Killer was all black, so when he was in a dark place, all you ever saw were two shining eyes. He usually did hide in dark places, too, under furniture, so that he could reach out from underneath to attack passing ankles. There was a dangerous sort of energy in that cat, the strength, the obsession, the ruthlessness of an army compacted down into a twelve pound package-- at least when he wasn’t curled up in a lap or taking a nap.
If Tim could find Killer, they could play. Killer got bored out here, too. No more cockroaches to kill and carry around in his mouth. Not that he shouldn’t be able to find enough other disgusting little things to play with out here. But he hadn’t been himself since they moved a month ago. He was shying at corners, sniffing and bristling as he looked at empty spaces.
Tim laughed. “Killer, are you afraid of the bogeyman? Didn’t you know mom and dad moved us out here ‘cause it’s safer?” Sure it was safer. Mom hadn’t liked it when he’d told her about the neat pistol Bobby had brought to school last May. But here the guys probably all had hunting rifles. “Killer, where are you?”
Scuffling came from the family room. That was where all the comfortable furniture was, the stuff that had come with them from the city. The stuff in the living room was all ‘country’, which his mom liked and he would like to make kindling of. That was an idea, Tim told himself. We got a fireplace now.
Tim went in search of the scuffling noise. Maybe Killer had found a rat. He could take it and put it where his mom would find it and maybe she’d be so grossed out they could move back home. Not likely.
He could hear the noise more clearly. It was coming from under the big, fluffy sofa, and it was kind of a growl, repeated once in awhile, and a lot of scuffling and scratching. Yeah, Tim thought, Killer’s found a rat.
Dropping to his knees, he bent down and twisted his head so he could look under the sofa. It was tricky, because the furniture was so low. He had to almost lie against the hardwood floor to do it. But under the couch were two big yellow eyes.
“Killer,” Tim called, hesitating a moment. The eyes didn’t look real friendly. Of course, they wouldn’t-- not if Killer was really going after something...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nathaniel's E-Journal May 2006 - I'm Now A Published Author

As I sit here typing my mind is still in a whirl.  The idea that something I've written is actually getting published seems unreal.  Then again a lot of things I've done in my long life feel that way.


The first time I stepped out onto a stage in vaudeville to play a part in one of the Marx Brothers routines I felt the same way.  I'd been helping out in their rehearsals and knew the routine by heart, so when Gummo wasn't able to appear with his brothers one night, I was drafted then and there.  I'm proud to say that I did not suffer stage fright, but that was mostly because I had Julius, Arthur and Leonard with me.  I knew they had my back and I wasn't about to let them down.  In a way, it was like being back in the Union Army, where I knew I had a bunch of guys watching out for me just as much as I was keeping an eye out for them.  When we finished our routine they made sure I took a bow with them.  After that I started finding myself on stage a number of times with some of the other acts who knew me pretty well.

But I digress.  As my second semester taking writing classes was drawing to a close, one of my instructors urged me to try and submit a few of my short stories to a few magazines for publication.  This was in March and I trusted my instructor's judgement and with their help I prepared a cover letter, synopsis and a sample of one of my stories.  Needless to say the results were pretty much what I half expected...


Not to say I wasn't a little hurt, but my instructor was like, "Good, now you're really on your way to being an author."  Needless to say I gave her a very curious look, but nodded and kept trying.  Withing weeks the responses, or rather more rejections, came rolling in...


Yet in spite of this, Brian, his family, fellow students, and even other members of the English and Literature faculty kept urging me on.  So I kept at it.  Finally, yesterday, I got a response from of all magazines Playboy, who wanted to publish one of my stories. It was one I submitted on a whim to their college fiction contest last year.  I didn't win mind you, but one of the editors kept it on file because he thought it was really good.  

In any case, somehow they were looking to fill space and he remembered my story and contacted me saying they wanted to run it.  Naturally I said yes so next month, my first published short story will be coming out in Playboy Magazine.  I'm hoping the readers like it, or at least those who read Playboy for the articles, all of two of them.

Still, to have my first published story appear in a magazine of that caliber is an honor.  I'm hoping it will help springboard me into other publications or at least get my name out there.  Or rather my pseudonym Daniel Bachmann.  Bachmann was my mother's maiden name and Daniel was my grandfather's name.   Too many people out there know or heard of Nathaniel Steward over the last few decades who don't know my secret.  So a fake name just seemed more appropriate on this occasion.

So my first published work will be sandwiched somewhere in between naked women and... now I'm jealous.  Time to head out and enjoy some nightlife.  I hear there's plenty of great places here in London, and the lights at night are beautiful.  Who knows, I might get an idea for a few more stories.  Yup... I'm a writer all right.  Always thinking about the next tale.







Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Home For Christmas: A Para-Earth Holiday Tale" - Part Four

     THE THING IN THE WOODS



     Julie continued to stare at the opening of the cave.  The creature was moving very slowly as if searching for something.  It raised its camel-like snout into the air and sniffed several times, before moving again. 
     She’d never seen such an animal before.  For one thing it was huge, way too big to come into the opening of the cave.  So even if the animal did sense their presence, it couldn’t get at them even if it wanted too.
     Then again, it could try using those massive claws on its front paws to try and reach in to get them.  She’d never seen such talons before on any animal.  There were three on each paw, and measured a good yard or more in length.  They were so long in fact, that the animal had to curl its front paws back and walk on its knuckles.
     But what made them truly frightening was the way they curved like a scythe.  She could easily picture herself being hooked by one of those terrifying claws and dragged out into the snow. 
     Yet, something about the animal’s behavior made her think it didn’t want to harm anyone.  Her father and Uncle Jason had taken her out into the woods to observe animals in the wild.  She’d seen how various creatures behaved and this one seemed to be more lost than anything.
     Without thinking she slowly started to move towards the opening to get a better look when Michael hissed, “What are you doing?  It’ll kill you if you go out there!”
     “How do you know?” she whispered back.
     “Because it killed my parents!”

*   *   *   *   *

Otto and his companion were studying the ground carefully as they entered the woods.  So far they had found nothing but what looked like mice tracks.  He knew from experience that these belonged to Nathan and was inwardly pleased.  Surely they’d find the missing child with this much ground being covered so quickly.
Still, he was a little surprised that his friend had apparently revealed his nature to a stranger.  Looking up at the tall Seneca, he could tell there was more to this man that met the eye.  Decades of meeting people from all different walks of life had allowed him to catch certain looks and behaviors in people that spoke volumes about themselves. 
Pausing to crack another plastic stick from his pouch, he placed the glowing rod securely on a tree branch, just as his companion spoke.
“I appreciate what you and your friend are doing to help find my niece,” the man said.  “I’d like to be able to do something for the two of you.  You are seeking something that much I can tell.  But what it is, I have no clue.  Would you tell me what it is?”
“Nathaniel did not tell you?”
“Only that he had crossed into one of the many realities that are and are not, like this one.  Places where some if not all life, evolved very differently than it did here,” the Seneca replied quietly. 
Intrigued, Otto turned to him.  “You have knowledge of such places?”
“As shaman of my people, I know a great many things, including how to recognize those who have been places and come back ‘changed’ by their experiences,” the fellow nodded.
“Then you also know that the openings that occur tend not to last for very long, but sometimes come back every so often,” he pressed.  “Have you heard of any around here?”
“Yes, I have.  There is one place not far from where we are standing where the woods have been reported to be haunted,” Jason told him.  “Strange noises can be heard, from beings unseen that are not of this world.  Even the local creatures avoid that place when the sounds come.” 
Immediately, Otto became more excited.  “I see,” he nodded rubbing his hands together.  “Most interesting, tell me when do these sounds occur?  Are they all year round or just at certain times?”
“Only in winter, as I suspect you have already guessed,” Jason answered with a smile.  “But they do not come every winter.  I have heard them twice myself.  The first time was when I was only a boy of ten and had come out this way to hunt deer, in order to see if I could approach one and pet it without frightening the animal.  It took me by surprise and I was both frightened yet intrigued.  I came back several days in a row trying to find the source of the sounds, but then they ceased.  I returned the following year, but they did not come.  Still I hoped and kept coming back year after year in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Then exactly ten years later, around Christmas I heard the sounds again.”
“Yes, yes… that is exactly what I calculated,” Otto beamed with pride.  Then he glanced at his friend and said, “And that happened ten years ago, am I right?”
Jason smiled and nodded.  “Indeed it did.  And I got close to the source, but the wind kicked up and began to howl as it is doing now.  It drowns the sounds and carries them away, but I am certain even without hearing those strange noises that I could find the opening you seek.”
“Do you think it’s possible your niece has already found it?” Otto asked quietly.
“It is possible, but I do not think she would enter such a place.  My brother and I have taught her well to avoid certain places where things do not feel right,” Jason assured him.
“I hope so,” Otto sighed.  “The question is, did something from the other side have as much common sense?”
“You speak of the creature that supposedly wanders these hills in winter, don’t you?”
“Have you seen it?”



“No,” Jason shook his head, “but I’ve heard of it.  A towering creature with massive claws which can stand up on its hind legs from time to time, but mostly travels on all fours.  I have even seen the strange footprints it leaves in the snow.  They are huge yet not found very often.  They seem to vanish near large snowdrifts, yet I’ve been able to detect a disturbance in the pack as if something has passed into it, as a fish will move through water.”
 “It swims through the snow?”
“No, I suspect it travels beneath the white, displacing the snow before it and pushing the pack past and then behind it, thus leaving no trail for anyone to follow.”
“Especially adapted for a colder climate,” Otto murmured thinking aloud, “It must come from a version where the Ice Age never ended.  Do we have any idea of the creature’s nature?  Is it aggressive?  Does it hunt other animals?”

“I’ve not heard of any strange remains being found in this area or of any livestock disappearances that could not be explained,” Jason replied after a few moments of thought.  “However, there was one incident about eight years ago when…”
A low distant cry as if coming from a gigantic throat cut off the rest of his words.
As the sound echoed and reverberated across the woods, both men stood there listening in wonder.
Soon the sound passed and only the wind could be heard. 
“That…” Jason began.
“Would be our friend,” Otto nodded.  “It sounds very large indeed.”
“And I think I know where it came from and it is not too far from where the opening you seek is.”
“How can you be certain?” asked Otto curiously.
“For that howl to have echoed so well above this storm, the creature must be near a stony area.  And I know of one not too far from where we parted company with Sergeant Ross and your friend, Nathan.”
Just then the radio attached to Otto’s belt crackled and the voice of the policewoman in question could be heard.
“Jason?  Professor Hofstadter?  Do you read me?  Respond?”
Grabbing the device, Otto pressed the button and replied, “We read you loud and crackly.  Did you hear that deep, loud noise?”
“We did,” came the reply.  “We also found one of Julie’s footprints in the snow.  She appears to have been headed towards a rocky area to the south of our current position.  We’re heading that way now.”
He turned to his companion who nodded, “That’s the same area I was going to take you.  Tell them to move carefully and we’ll catch up as soon as we can.”
Otto relayed the information and then the two of them set out, moving as quickly as possible. 
“I’m sure we will find her safe and sound,” he assured his companion.
“I hope you are right,” Jason replied, but kept moving with a fast determined step.  “You asked me before if the creature was dangerous or not.  Well, there had been a car crash that occurred at the same place near the barbed wire fence where we met and...”

*   *   *   *   *

     “That thing killed your parents?” Julie murmured.
     “Yeah,” her shadowy companion whispered back.  “It would’ve gotten me too if Riff hadn’t led me away to safety.  He was the one who found this cave and dragged me inside.”
     “He dragged you? Why?”
     “I’d hurt my head and couldn’t walk too well,” her friend replied.  “I don’t remember too much after that, except waking up inside here and feeling cold.  Riff was still with me and curled up with me so we could stay warm.”
     Julie turned and stared back at the mouth of the cave.  The animal was moving slowly very slowly, or so it seemed.  She could see the back half of the creature and noticed one of its hind legs was limping.  “It’s hurt,” she murmured.
     “Probably from when our car hit it,” she heard Michel remark somewhere behind her.  “It rose up out of the snow as we were driving and my Dad lost control trying to turn away from it.  But the car started to slide and couldn’t straighten out.  Our car fish-tailed and then suddenly that thing hit us and sent our car flipped over.  We rolled over a barbed wire fence and then the door to the backseat on my side opened and I went flying because I didn’t have my seatbelt on…”
     As she listened Julie kept one eye on the creature which continued to move away from the mouth of the cave.  Something didn’t seem right.  Then without thinking, she crawled forward all the way to the opening and took a closer look at her pursuer.
     The beast was as bigger than a bear, perhaps as large as a rhino and had long limbs which made its limp so distinct.  Strangely, she couldn’t detect any blood on the animal that she could see.  There was nothing near the snout or around that injured hind leg.
     She was about to double back and ask Michael another question when the animal suddenly sniffed the air and turned around to face her.  The great nostrils flared and exuded steam as the beast seemed to stare at her with eyes she couldn’t see. 
    Just then a strong wind kicked up and blew some of the long hair back off the animal’s face.  What she saw made her cry out in shock.
     A moment later, the great beast unleashed a bellow of its own, before loping straight towards her as quickly as its bad leg would allow.
     Paralyzed she stood there unable to move, as the snow continued to fall all around her...


TO BE CONCLUDED TOMORROW....

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Home For Christmas: A Para-Earth Holiday Tale" - Part One

A note from the author:  My original intention had been to complete this particular holiday story and release it as a free short story on Smashwords on Christmas.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints I was not able to create a cover or do most of the usual more serious editing that I wanted.  So instead, I'm presenting this tale in installments, that will continue until Christmas Day where the last part of the story will be told.  


I will do another in this style for next Christmas as well, thus starting my own tradition for you my readers.  But I will also be re-releasing this story in full as either a very small novella/short story on Smashwords complete with full editing, a proper cover, AND... hopefully some pen and ink illustrations to accompany the tale.  


I do hope you'll enjoy this tale of the season which includes my first crossover.  What I mean by that is that this is the first time Nathaniel will be meeting some of the established characters from my first published novel "The Bridge".  Those familiar with that novel will see some familiar faces here, but set sixteen years in the past before the events of the novel.  Will we see these characters and my vampyre Nathaniel meet again?  We'll have to wait and see.  In the meantime, please enjoy this story.   The next installment will be up tomorrow followed by more each day until Christmas.  Enjoy...




A LOST GIRL

New Swindon, Connecticut, December 23rd, 1999



     “She’s only been missing for eight hours, Sarge,” said the patrolman, shifting his feet uneasily.  His superior had her back to him as she stared out the window, not moving.  Even the looser strands of red hair, sticking out of her ponytail seemed unnaturally still.  This made him uneasy.
      Ever since the summer she’d become solemn and hard.  She could also be more unpredictable than a volcano.  “Technically, it’s not a missing person case until twenty-four hours have passed,” he added nervously.
      Finally she broke her silence and replied in a quiet voice “The temperature is already dropping and it’s starting to snow.”
      “Everyone’s keeping an eye out for her already, Sarge,” he pointed out and immediately regretted it.
       Sergeant Ross spun around so fast that her pony tail wound up slapping her in the face, which did not seem to improve her mood.  “Keeping an eye out isn’t the same as actively searching for her!” she snapped.  “We’ve already got one girl missing with no leads.  I… we don’t want another.”
     The patrolman took a step back.  He’d heard that red-heads could have a fierce temper, but up until now he’d never believed it.  A part of him silently began praying for some kind of diversion that would allow him to leave the room as quickly as possible.
       Just then another voice joined the conversation.
      “No we don’t, Sergeant.”
      ‘Note to self,’ he thought breathing a sigh of relief, ‘Stop by the local church and drop a few extra dollars in the donation box.’  Then he turned his head ever so slightly and watched their boss enter the room. 
     The man’s craggy features made him look like he was always scowling, so you always had to watch his manner and tone of voice.   But even then he could prove quite disarming and trip you up before you realized what had happened.  More than one suspect had fallen into that trap which was what had led to his appointment as head of the New Swindon Police Department seven years ago.
      Since his arrival, Chief Petersen had made a number of improvements in their department. They had doubled the number of officers and would soon be moving to a new and much larger facility.  For now they were still located in the town’s original station which was located in the middle of downtown.  He’d also brought in Sergeant Ross to act as his second-in-command, two years ago. 
      Unlike their boss she had a manner that could be quite disarming, which had been a big help in dealing with the local youths.  In fact she’d proven to be one of the most effective officers in helping the more troublesome offenders.
      But ever since the night that girl disappeared from the Graham estate, she’d become harder and less patient, even with her subordinates. 
      Just then, Petersen turned to him and said, “Why don’t you round up as many volunteers as you can to start looking for little Julie, Jenkins?” their boss told him. 
      “Don’t you mean men, Chief?”
    “Women too,” his boss replied, “Remember we’re dealing with a little girl.  According to her Uncle Jason, she was pretty upset and might respond better to a woman being around.”
      “In that case I’ll head out as well,” Sergeant Ross announced, “Where was she last seen?”
      Petersen held up his hand to stop her before he answered.  “She was heading off into the woods to the east of the Cyrus Graham’s home.” 
      Jenkins noted the look that passed between his two superiors and quickly left. 
      He moved quickly down the hallway thinking, ‘Great, that place again.  We’re going to need a lot more people, the grounds there are huge.’
     Leaving the station, he headed for the local tavern just a block away.  There was always a good crowd there at this hour.  And most of clientele would have just gotten off work and would only be on their first or second drink.  He should be able to round up a good number of volunteers there, plus he could use a quick shot himself.  He’d also grab a little brandy to take with him just in case they needed it for the girl when and if they found her…

     “I can handle going out there, Roy,” Veronica told her boss evenly.  They were alone, so she knew it was okay to call him by his first name.  He had been her first partner back in New York City, ten years ago.  And in spite of the fifteen year difference in their ages, they’d become the best of friends.  So when he left to become chief of police way up here in northern Connecticut, she’d felt as if a part of herself had gone away.  Of course she’d had other partners, but it had never been the same.  Plus, the city seemed to become meaner over time. 
      So when Roy came back to visit her two years ago, she was more than ready to accept his offer to become his second-in-command, in this this rural community of twenty-five thousand.  She’d been able to do so much good since coming here, but she’d also suffered some failures… 
      “Are you sure?” her old partner asked gently, interrupting her reverie. 
       Looking up at him, she nodded.
     Unfortunately, he didn’t seem convinced.  “I know you, Ronnie.  You’re still upset about what became of that girl who disappeared the night Cyrus Graham had that heart attack that put him in a coma.”
      “Yes, I am,” she admitted in a controlled voice.  “And I’m still hoping he’ll come out of it one day soon and be able to tell us what happened to Rachel.  But right now we have another girl missing out that way and she needs to be found before it gets too dark out.  The snow is already falling and we’re wasting time.”
      Roy studied her for a moment and nodded.  “All right, get over to Jason’s place.  It’s located on the grounds of Cyrus’ estate near that old stone bridge.  That’s where the girl took off from.”
      As she started for the door, he added, “Be careful out there, Rookie.  I don’t want you getting lost in the snow.”
    That made her smile.  Even after ten years, she still found the nickname amusing.  “I’ll be careful,” she assured him and left. 
     Halfway down the hall she could feel his eyes watching her.  So she decided to give him some of his own medicine. 
     Upon reaching the front doors she called over her shoulder, “Don’t wait up for me, Oldtimer!”
She barely caught the words, “Who are you calling old, you snot-nosed…?” as the door closed behind her.

*   *   *   *   *


      Parked off to the side of the road at a rest stop, sat an old station wagon, with a box-like travel trailer attached.  A picnic table with benches stood nearby.  Both table and seats were covered in a layer of snow at least four inches deep.  But this was old snow which had lost some of its white luster.  Another layer was already building, giving both bench and table and icy layered cake effect.  Beyond the table a gradual slope rose up a dozen feet or so, before sinking downwards and disappearing among the trees.
    However, the driver of the vehicle was taking little notice of the wintery scene around him.  Instead, he was standing near the edge of the road where the asphalt ended and frozen ground began.  He was an older man, with curly greying hair, and a matching beard and moustache.  Standing up, he placed his hands on his slightly pronounced abdomen.  “Yes, most curious,” he said to himself in a heavy German accent.
      “Find something, Otto?” came a voice from the vicinity of his vehicle.
    Turning the driver smiled at the sandy-blonde young man who was stepping from the travel-trailer.  He had a slender build and was dressed in a heavy winter parka that stretched all the way down to the ground.  Although he had just emerged from the warm compartment, his face seemed awfully pink.
    “The sun is still up, albeit behind the clouds,” the older man called Otto remarked.  “I didn’t expect you to be up until after it had set.  Is something the matter, Nathan?”
    “I’m not sure,” the young man replied scanning their surroundings with his eyes.  “I… I felt a presence.”
     “Blonde, brunette or red-head?” Otto teased.
      But his friend didn’t answer.  Instead, he found Nathan staring into the open field across the road.  A barbed wire fence had been erected to keep interlopers out of the rows of corn that normally grew there.  On this day however, the field hosted only a wide expanse of snow that ended at the line of woods that bordered it on three sides.  The uniformity of the treetops was interrupted by the occasional sloping of a hill, where some pines rose above their brethren and silently stood watch over the open field.
      “What do you see?” Otto asked after several moments had passed.
     "Nothing, but I smell something,” Nathan replied and quickly made his way across the road.  Once there he started to examine the barbed wire carefully. 
      From what Otto could see there was nothing unusual or odd about the fence, no wait.  One section seemed newer than the rest.  It was hard to notice at first, because the wire had built up a layer of rust over the years, but the posts it was attached to were fresher by comparison to the others. 
     Suddenly Nathan stopped and knelt down in front of one section of the fence.  Reaching a hand out he touched one of the barbs and that’s when Otto saw it, a red glistening stain on one of the metal points. 
     He barely remembered to check if the road was clear of oncoming traffic, before running over to join his friend.



     Emerging from among the trees a lone wolf slowly padded down the slope and stopped near the picnic table.  Its fur was snow white, which allowed the animal to blend in with his surroundings.  Watching the two strangers intently it slowly made its way over to where the station wagon and travel trailer stood.  Keeping behind the vehicles so as not to be noticed, the great beast began sniffing around. 
     Both men’s scents were unlike anything it had encountered before, yet there was also something familiar about their smells.  Remembering its mission, the wolf began sniffing around the area. In particular is spent a lot of time around the trailer where the younger man had emerged.  Besides his odd scent, the beast also detected another familiar smell, human blood.
     Just then the breeze picked up and began to come from across the road.  Immediately, the animal raised its head.  Its delicate nose had detected another scent, one the animal knew very well.
     The wolf eyed the two men suspiciously and was about to approach them when its sensitive ears detected the approach of a vehicle.  Looking up, the beast saw the car in question had red and blue lights on top.  Without hesitation, the snow-white animal quickly made its way back up and over the slope.
     A few seconds later, a new figure appeared.  It was a man, with long black hair, and high strong cheekbones.  Without hesitation he made his way down the steep incline with all the sure-footedness of a deer. 

     He reached the bottom just as the patrol pulled up behind the travel trailer.  As soon as the driver began to emerge from the vehicle, he immediately recognized the flame-red pony-tail trailing down her back.  Delighted, he was about to call out to her when he noticed one of the two men across the road do something, disturbing.  

TO BE CONTINUED...